Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- An Amazing Time with Fellow Writers


I’ve just returned from my second Brainstorming at the Spa session in Matera, Italy. I never made it to the spa. Let me start with a little background. For those of you who have heard this before, hang in with me.
The Women’s Fiction Festival will be having its 9th celebration this year. Don’t be put off by the “Women’s” part of the name- there are plenty of men in attendance. The Festival is wonderful. It’s a true mix of writers, editors, agents and a few children running around. I won’t even mention the food and wine.
Out of that, a few years ago a small group of us decided we would benefit from a brainstorming time. Last year was our first get-together at a time different than of the Festival. The wonderful Liz Jennings coordinated it and the insightful Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency led the discussions. We numbered about 18-20 last year, a few less this last week. Each writer had time to present his/her current project and the group focused on how to move the story forward. Christine gave us lots of feedback and presented industry know-how that we’d never find on our own.
I returned late last night from year two. This was my 4th time to Matera, a very unusual and fascinating Italian town. I’ve now been to two Festivals and two brainstorming sessions. After four days of intense days (breakfast at 8am and bedtime after midnight), my mind is spinning.
 Except for one fantastic addition to the group, everyone there was a repeat from last year’s brainstorming plus Festival times. Over the year we have stayed in touch nearly daily. We have our Yahoo group, FaceBook, Twitter and private emails. The group is very international, writes across all genres, and stands ready to pitch in for each of us. With all of our contact, we didn’t need much “getting to know you” time. It allowed the work to began within minutes.
 Granted, we did have long lunches and late dinners, but I would guess that nearly 90% of the time focused on writing and publishing. There is something to be said about time that is not crazy with running to meeting after meeting in a large hotel but rather a concentrated effort to help each other move to the next level.
I thank each of the wonderful folks who took time to think through my work and also thank them for trusting me to comment on theirs. The only thing missing was a few more hours of sleep.
May you find a group that helps you think through your projects and support your efforts. Do check out the website for the Women’s Fiction Festival. It is a unique opportunity held in a place like no other.

6 comments:

Lindsay said...

I'm glad you had a wonderful time and made it back safely.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous time, Cassy :-)

Someday when my life isn't so busy I will make it there!

Cassy Pickard said...

Thanks to you both! It was great. It's a different experience when it is so focused on each person's work and not running from presentation to presentation. The group is always open to additions!!

Cassy Pickard said...

For those who want to see pictures of Matera, check out the blog of one of our fellow writers.
http://claudenougat.blogspot.it/2012/03/writers-retreat-in-wonderful-matera.html#axzz1qVqWBWt8

Liz Lipperman said...

Cassy, I came really close to going this year, but in the end, I opted for eye surgery!!! Duh!!!

It sounds like it was a productive time for all of you. I am in a group of women called the Plotting Princesses, and we had our retreat
Saturday. I got my next book plotted!! Yay!! Now all I have to do is write the damn thing!

Welcome home.

Anita Clenney said...

It sounds like such a fun time, Cassy. I wish I could have gone. Especially since my next book is set in Italy, at least for the moment. I talk to one of the girls who was supposed to be there. Or maybe it's the Women's Fiction Festival. Nancy Barone. She's been so sweet to me, answering questions about Italy.